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Have you read Rick Spilman’s novel Hell Around The Horn?
It’s a thriller that tells of the captivating story about a young ship’s captain and his family who sets sail on Lady Rebecca – a 1905 windjammer, from Wales bound for Chile, by way of Cape Horn in the Age of Sail. Based on an actual voyage, and written with historical accuracy, Rick draws you into the world of whipping westerly winds, mutiny and survival on the high seas. Read tugster’s review here.
Hell Around the Horn is a nautical thriller set in the last days of the great age of sail. In 1905, a young ship’s captain and his family set sail on the windjammer, Lady Rebecca, from Cardiff, Wales with a cargo of coal bound for Chile, by way of Cape Horn. Before they reach the Southern Ocean, the cargo catches fire, the mate threatens mutiny and one of the crew may be going mad, yet the greatest challenge will prove to be surviving the vicious westerly winds and mountainous seas of the worst Cape Horn winter in memory. Based on an actual voyage, Hell Around the Horn is a story of survival and the human spirit against overwhelming odds.
Rick Spilman is an acclaimed maritime author and Old Salt Blogger. If you haven’t picked up this book yet, I suggest you click-through to Amazon or Barnes & Noble. It’s available as an ebook for Kindle, and in paperback.
by Mai Armstrong for Working Harbor Committee, hat tip Robert Weisbrod Chair, Working Harbor Committee
John Skelson shared this story with me the other day on facebook, about a sport I had no idea existed having hailed from warmer climes – Ice Yachting.
Of course, why wouldn’t there be ice yachting? We sail on roads and sand, and even through the air, of course we would want to skim frozen waterways in full sail.
Last weekend, a group of iceboaters celebrated the polar vortex temperatures on the frozen Hudson River.
As reported by The New York Times, The North Shrewsbury Ice Boat and Yacht Club and the Hudson River Ice Yacht Club revived an old rivalry, playing out for the first time in more than a decade. The wooden 1880′s-era ice boat, Rocket would race the Jack Frost, an iceboat built in 1892.
The New York Times: Word spread of the two boats meeting, and the weekend became an iceboat summit.
“This is a very unique, unusual situation,” said John Vargo, a former commodore of the Hudson club who was on the ice wearing an entire skinned coyote on his head, fastened by the forepaws tied under his chin.
“It’s once in a lifetime.” He scanned the dozens of wooden vessels, which date back more than a century, many of them with faded, old sails. “I’ve never seen this many iceboats together on the Hudson, and I’ve been coming here 70 years,” said Mr. Vargo, 78.
Thankfully, no one was aboard the vessel when it sank to the bottom of the Black River in South Haven. Officials have been notified and will conduct an investigation to find out what caused the boat to sink.
by Mai Armstrong for Working Harbor Committee
The National Transportation and Safety Board has released their official report on the sinking of the tall ship Bounty during Hurricane Sandy in October, 2012. With all the sad details of Bounty’s last sail we have heard from rescuers and rescued, the findings come as no surprise.
The NTSB 16-page report details the struggles of the inexperienced crew with failing ship engines and bilge pumps in hurricane-fueled seas – and states the “reckless decision to sail into the well-forecasted path of Hurricane Sandy” was a voyage that, “should never have been attempted.”
NTSB Press Release
National Transportation Safety Board
Office of Public Affairs
Captain’s decision to sail into the path of a hurricane caused the tall ship Bounty to sink off Atlantic coast
A captain’s “reckless decision to sail into the well-forecasted path of Hurricane Sandy” was the probable cause of the sinking of a ship off the North Carolina coast in October 2012, the National Transportation Safety Board said in a report released today. The captain and one crewmember died in the accident. Three other crewmembers were seriously injured.
On the evening of October 25, 2012, a day after a closely watched developing storm had reached hurricane strength, the 108-foot-long tall wooden ship, the Bounty, set sail from New London, Conn., for St. Petersburg, Fla., into the forecasted path of Superstorm Sandy. The 52-year-old vessel, a replica of the original 18th Century British Admiralty ship of the same name, was built for MGM Studios for the 1962 movie, “Mutiny on the Bounty.”
Prior to setting off from New London, some of the crewmembers had expressed their concerns to the captain that sailing into a severe storm could put all of them and the ship at risk. The captain assured the crew that the Bounty could handle the rough seas and that the voyage would be a success. Just a month earlier, in an interview with a Maine TV station, the captain said that the Bounty “chased hurricanes,” and by getting close to the eye of the storm, sailors could use hurricane winds to their advantage.
The 16-page report details how a mostly inexperienced crew – some injured from falls, others seasick and fatigued from the constant thrashing of 30-foot seas – struggled for many hours to keep the ships engines running and bilge pumps operating so the seawater filling the vessel would not overtake it.
Read more from the NTSB Press Release here…
Sorry for my lateness! I’m dealing with intermittent loss of internet connection this morning, so I have a reblog for you from Mitch Waxman, WHC’s official photographer, from his blog The Newtown Pentacle.
A look back at a much warmer day, coasting along the Newtown Creek.
Historic Tug at Newtown Creek
Vintage Tugboat at Newtown Creek – photo by Mitch Waxman
A rare opportunity to ride up the Newtown Creek was recently enjoyed by your humble narrator, and on my journey up that maligned cataract I spotted an artifact of New York Harbor’s glorious past sneaking past Hunters Point.
Blue-claw crabs, bluefish, weakfish, striped bass, and other species inhabit the creek, and fishing and crabbing for human consumption occurs [Ref. 7, pp. 2, 5; 8, p. 11; 21, p. 13; 22, pp. 1-2; 24, p. 143; 52, p. 93; 68, p. 3; 69, p. 1]. Subsistence fishing has been observed in Newtown Creek at Dutch Kills, and crabbing for consumption has been observed at the end of Manhattan Avenue in Brooklyn [Ref. 7, p. 5; 21, p. 13; 22, pp. 1-2; 68, p. 3; 69, p. 1]. These locations are both within the zone of contamination for the Newtown Creek site [Figure 2 of this HRS documentation record]. Therefore, Actual Contamination is documented, and the target fishery is evaluated for Actual Human Food Chain Contamination.
the W O Decker at Newtown Creek - photo by Mitch Waxman
Wooden hulled, its spitting steam boilers have long been replaced by modern diesel engines, this little (52 feet long) tugboat is the W O Decker.
also from epa.gov
Beginning in the late 1800s and continuing into the 1930s, Newtown Creek was widened, deepened, and lined with bulkheads to accommodate the growing traffic, leading to the destruction of all its freshwater sources [Ref. 8, p. 10; 12,
p. 52]. During World War II, the government commandeered factories along the creek to make military equipment, such as a factory that made aluminum for fighter planes [Ref. 11, p. 14]. At that time, Newtown Creek was the busiest industrial port in the Northeast, with tanker traffic lining its length [Ref. 7, p. 1; 11, p. 13]. The national highway system built after the war took business away from the nation’s waterways, leading to a rapid decline in the level of industry along Newtown Creek [Ref. 7, pp. 1-2].
the W O Decker passing by the “Greenpoint Manufacturing and Design Center” - photo by Mitch Waxman
A “historic place” the Decker was originally called the Russell 1 when it was built in 1930 for the Newtown Creek Towing Company, who were specialists in berthing and towing heavy cargo along the crowded and narrow waterway.
The Greenpoint Manufacturing and Design Center (GMDC) started in the late 1980s as an innovative intersection of two interests: reclaiming derelict factories in North Brooklyn’s Greenpoint neighborhood and sustaining industry and manufacturing in New York City. The organization formally incorporated in 1992.
From its initial purchase and redevelopment of a large facility at 1155 Manhattan Avenue for use by light manufacturers and artisans, GMDC has since expanded and today is the only nonprofit industrial developer in New York City. The organization acquires, develops, and manages industrial real estate that provides small and medium-sized manufacturing enterprises with affordable, flexible production space.
In the shot above, The Decker is passing the Newtown Creek Waste Water Treatment Facility in Greenpoint, Brooklyn - photo by Mitch Waxman
The Decker is currently a high end tour vessel, operated by and out of the South Street Seaport in Manhattan.
The wooden tugboat W.O. Decker was built in Long Island City, Queens in 1930 for the Newtown Creek Towing Company, a firm specializing in berthing ships and barges in the creek that separates Brooklyn and Queens. Originally called the Russell I for the towing company’s owners, she was renamed the W.O. Decker in 1946 after being sold to the Decker family’s Staten Island tugboat firm.
The shield wall of the Shining City, framed by Long Island City on the right and industrial Brooklyn on the left with the Pulaski Bridge just at Horizon - photo by Mitch Waxman
The vessel I was aboard continued on toward the Greenpoint Avenue Bridge, but the Decker turned in the narrow part of the Newtown Creek near the confluence of its tributaries Whale Creek and Dutch Kills.
Check out this 1896 article at the NYTimes, which actually interviews the manager of Newtown Creek Towing Company, John Russell, for whom the Decker was originally named.
This week I have a mix of new photos and some from the mid 1970’s. Dalzell Eagle, later became McAllister Brothers. Steven McAllister and Catherine McAllister at Bergen Point, the bridge in the background was the Newark Bay Railroad Bridge.
Today, ships passing the area where the bridge was located, call it “Old Bay Draw”. USS Yorktown under tow out of Bayonne after decommissioning, later became a museum ship in South Carolina.
Shipping prior to container ships include, a Reefer from Chile with a cargo of produce, and a Cargo ship heading for the Brooklyn piers.
New photos include, Iver Foss assisting tug on the Left Coast Lifter tow, Brooklyn with several tugs in the background. (Click images to enlarge.)
Stop by B&H photo February 17th, 1-3PM for my presentation of NY Harbor photos. See you there!
John Skelson’s NY Harbor photos at B&H Photo’s Photographers Showcase Series, Monday, February 17th from 1:00 pm – 3:00 pm. – FREE! – Register here.
Happy New Year!
from all of us at the Working Harbor Committee
Wishing everyone a happy, healthy, harbor-filled 2014!
Here is a lovely piece of historic footage of a trip on the Staten Island Ferry from the 1960′s that I hope you will enjoy. From the Collection of the Prelinger Archives
Her hull is 4 football fields long, longer than the Empire State Building is high and fully loaded, she weighs a whopping 600,000 tons.
Shell’s Prelude, the world’s largest vessel, was floated out of dry dock in South Korea earlier this month. When complete, she will be the world’s first floating liquefied natural gas (FLNG) platform.
Once constructed, the facility will be towed to its location about 300 miles off the coast of Western Australia to extract gas from offshore reserves for 25 years. Designed to withstand category-5 winds, the $10-billion vessel will be anchored to the seabed by one of the largest mooring systems in the world.
NPR: The 600,000-ton Prelude will serve as a liquified natural gas or LNG facility, which lets the company tap into the natural gas deep at sea. The gas will then be chilled into a liquid, which makes the gas easier to store and ship.
Smaller ships will come and pick up the natural gas and transport it to customers. Shell’s Prelude is so huge it can store enough liquefied natural gas (LNG) to fill 175 Olympic swimming pools. It will stay in place during stormy weather and is built to withstand a Category 5 cyclone, according to the company.
The Prelude will allow Shell to tap into natural gas reserves that have previously been too expensive to extract. Read more here…
A mystery has been solved with the deep-sea discovery of a World War II-era submarine lost 67 years ago. An Imperial Japanese mega-submarine, the I-400, was intentionally scuttled by U.S. forces after its capture in 1946 and sunk in 2,300 feet of water off the coast of Oahu, Hawaii.
This summer, researchers from the Hawaii Undersea Research Laboratory at the University of Hawaii discovered the long-lost wreck. Almost 400 feet in length, the I-400 – a ‘Sen-Toku’ class submarine – was one of the largest submarines of the time packed with advanced technologies compared to other subs. The massive sub could target the U.S. mainland, and could sail anywhere on earth without needing to refuel.
The Maritime Executive: A World War II-era Imperial Japanese Navy mega-submarine, the I-400, lost since 1946 when it was intentionally scuttled by U.S. forces after its capture, has been discovered in more than 2,300 feet of water off the southwest coast of O‘ahu.
The discovery resolves a decades-old Cold War mystery of just where the lost submarine lay, and recalls a different era as one war ended and a new, undeclared conflict emerged.
Longer than a football field at 400 feet, the I-400 was known as a “Sen-Toku” class submarine—the largest submarine ever built until the introduction of nuclear-powered subs in the 1960s. With a range of 37,500 miles, the I-400 and its sister ship, the I-401, were able to travel one and a half times around the world without refueling, a capability that, to this day, has never been matched by any other diesel-electric submarine.
The I-400 and the I-401 aircraft-carrying submarines held up to three folding-wing float-plane bombers that could be launched by catapult just minutes after the submarines surfaced. Each aircraft could carry a powerful 1,800-pound bomb to attack the U.S. mainland. But neither was ever used for its designed purpose, their missions curtailed by the end of armed conflict in the Pacific. Read more here…
by Mai Armstrong for the Working Harbor Committee
This Friday, December 6th, a group of enterprising young entrepreneurs will launch what they call “Brooklyn’s first dinner boat” from the East River Ferry India Street Pier in Greenpoint, Brooklyn.
Although dinner service vessels dock in Sheepshead Bay and other Brooklyn ports, they generally cater to private parties. The Water Table sets itself apart by taking reservations for parties of two to six people, like a regular neighborhood restaurant.
from The Water Table website: The Revolution is a Yard Patrol boat that was built for the US Navy in 1944. Yard Patrol boats were used by the Navy to teach familiarization with seamanship, research and navigation. It is one of 3 left in service from that era.
Yard Patrol crafts provide realistic, at-sea training in navigation and seamanship for midshipmen at the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland, and candidates at Officer Candidate School, Newport, Rhode Island.
The Revolution is 62’ long and 18’ wide. Built during World War II, it has a large amount of history. It most recently worked as a tour boat in Boston Harbor and prior to that spent many years as a passenger ferry between the surrounding islands near Boothbay Harbor. Years earlier it served at a fire boat in NY Harbor.
The New York Daily News: Diners can now have a drink in Greenpoint, eat an appetizer under the Brooklyn Bridge and enjoy a main course next to Lady Liberty — all while seated at the same table.
Called “Brooklyn’s first dinner boat” by its creators, the Water Table makes its first official cruise Friday, serving up mouth-watering views along with its menu.
It’s all set on a World War II-era minesweeper that’s been re-created as a floating New England tavern.
“Brooklyn is more than just a geographic location,” says Sue Walsh, 34, co-founder of the Water Table. “Brooklyn is also an adjective, and a dining experience on a boat reflects what people in Brooklyn are looking for right now.”
Guests will board the boat at the India St. pier in Greenpoint, where commuters take off across the East River for work each weekday on Wall Street and Midtown-bound ferries. Read more here…
by Mai Armstrong for the Working Harbor Committee